Jack got back up to the Plass and stopped, temporarily at a loss. 110 years of either being imprisoned in or living in the Hub, 110 years of waiting to find out what he needed to know so that he could be free, and now that he was suddenly cut off from it all, he didn’t know what to do. All of Cardiff was now open to him, but where would he go? He’d grown accustomed to the Hub; it was his home.
He had no family he could stay with. Alice and Steven were his only living family in this time, but Alice had made it quite clear that he was to stay away, no matter what. She didn’t want to risk anyone knowing the link between them and Jack. She was a mother after all, and her only priority was to protect her son. She didn’t want him to get mixed up in Jack’s world. Jack wasn’t even welcome at things like Steven’s birthday parties anymore; she was that paranoid about what might possibly happen.
Jack stood watching the people moving around him, getting on with their lives. Their plain, boring and so wonderfully normal lives. A life he could never have. He looked briefly up at the water tower and wondered if Ianto was watching him on CCTV.
Suddenly angry at the whole situation, he decided that perhaps he should just leave Cardiff for good. Put Torchwood behind him and just move on. Ianto had made it perfectly clear he didn’t want him there, and didn’t trust him. If he did go back to Torchwood once his suspension had been served, exactly how was Ianto going to treat him anyway? And if the committee came down on Ianto over the Cyberwoman incident, Jack just knew that Ianto would take it out on him.
He walked over to the roadside and hailed a taxi. He gave the driver some directions, and began to plan what he needed to do before he got out of Cardiff. Ianto would continue to take care of Flat Holm Island for him, but there was Alice and Steven to consider. He had been sending them money regularly, especially after that loser Joe had walked out on them, but if he left that would stop. He would need to make arrangements for something more substantial.
As the driver pulled out into the traffic and headed off to the destination Jack had requested though, other thoughts began to cross his mind.
On the day the committee had injected the tracker into Ianto, Jack had promised him he wouldn’t hurt him, and that he wouldn’t leave without permission. Despite how angry Jack was, he still didn’t want to hurt Ianto, well not any more than he already had at least. He knew how painful it would be for Ianto if the tracker got set off by Jack leaving. The tracker had been set off once before, when he got too far from a previous director. She didn’t survive.
Thoughts of the committee made Jack pause. Surely, they would know by now that the Cyberwoman was dead. Would they follow through with their threats against Alice and Steven, now that Jack had failed to do what they had asked and keep the Cyberwoman hidden?
Jack remembered also that his Vortex Manipulator was still locked away in the Secure Archives. If he left now, he would lose what little chance he had of ever getting it back. The thought of having to hide from Torchwood for another 3000 years, until he caught up with a timeline that could fix or repair his wrist strap seemed a bit too much to bear at that particular moment.
Jack banged on the partition that separated him from the driver and gave him new directions. He ended up in a suburb a few miles away from Torchwood and stopped outside a house he knew should be empty. Paying the driver and waiting for him to pull away, he opened up the letterbox and took out an envelope that was there. It appeared to be a letter addressed to someone at that house, but Jack knew it would contain the key to a shed around the back.
Entering the shed he quickly found the safe and, praying the combination hadn’t been changed, he tried opening it. Jack almost sighed in relief when the safe opened first go. Inside the safe were various types of alien money, but Jack was after a particular envelope that was at the back of the safe. It contained Earth money and, more importantly, a key to the house.
The house was a safe house owned by a community of mostly humanoid aliens that were living peacefully in Cardiff. Torchwood didn’t know about this community of aliens, and Jack certainly had no intention of letting them know. The aliens were all refugees from various planets and regimes that would have them executed should they ever return.
None of them were a threat to Earth, they just wanted to live out their lives in peace. On occasion Jack had introduced new aliens to the community, not wanting them to be caught by Torchwood. In gratitude for this, they had always said that if he ever needed a place to stay it was his for as long as he needed it. Until now, he had never had to take them up on their offer.
Ianto had indeed been watching Jack on the CCTV.
He felt torn. On one hand, he was so angry with Jack for doing something as potentially dangerous as harbouring a Cyberwoman in the base. On the other hand, as soon as Jack had known what Ianto’s nightmare was about, and what was causing it, he had done whatever he could to put an end to it. Unfortunately for all of them, it hadn’t gone quite to plan.
A while later, Ianto heard the others moving around in the Hub, and he knew he would have to speak to them sooner or later. He got up and loudly unlocked his office door, then went back to his desk and sat down again. With a grim smile, he took off his watch and placed it on the desk in front of him and waited. Sure enough, exactly one minute later, Gwen came bursting into his office, ignoring the still-closed door, and sat herself down on the chair opposite Ianto.
Ianto looked at her coolly.
“How could you do this to him?” she demanded. “You can’t just kick someone out of his home just because he made one simple mistake…”
Ianto looked out his office door, and felt his attention wander. Strangely, he seemed to be doing this more and more whenever Gwen started one of her speeches. He knew it wasn’t displaying very good leadership skills, but he couldn’t help himself.
He knew that Gwen was the only one in the team who hadn’t experienced the effects of the Cyberman attack fully, which made her the only one who didn’t fully understand the danger Jack had put the entire planet in with his actions. When they were talking about the Cyberman attack one time Gwen had revealed that she and her boyfriend had previously believed the terrorism story.
“My boyfriend says it’s like a sort of terrorism,” she had told them. “Like they put drugs in the water supplies – psychotropic drugs, causing mass hallucinations and stuff.”
For Gwen, finding out the truth about the attack was very much an eye-opener for her, but even now, she still didn’t appreciate the full implications of a Cyber invasion.
Looking back towards Gwen, she showed no signs of stopping. She was so caught up in her defence of Jack, she hadn’t even realised Ianto had not been paying attention.
“Gwen!” Ianto had finally heard enough. “I told you earlier I have already made my decision. What Jack did was put the entire planet, actually the entire universe, in so much danger. I can’t just let that go with a slap on the wrist.”
“No! He’ll serve his suspension, and then we’ll see what happens.” Ianto placed his hands on his desk and stood up.
Gwen stood up with him.
Ianto looked out the door. “The others seem to be getting ready to go for lunch, I suggest you go with them.”
Gwen opened her mouth to say something more but after taking a look at Ianto, she turned and left without another word.
When the team came back from lunch, Tosh knocked on his office door. She placed a takeaway cup of coffee on his desk.
“I brought you a coffee. No one ever gets you a coffee.”
Ianto looked up at her. “Is this where I get my next lecture about how badly I’ve treated Jack?”
Tosh looked genuinely shocked. “No, no, it’s just coffee. I don’t want you to feel you’re alone.”
Ianto nodded noncommittally. “Thanks,” he said.
Tosh walked to the door and stopped. “I will say one thing though. If it hadn’t have been for Jack giving me a chance, after I had made a mistake, I could have been locked away forever. I just hope he gets the same chance.”
Ianto nodded again, but before he could say anything Tosh had walked through the door and out of his office. Two down, two to go, he thought to himself.
Not long afterwards, a rift alert came through. Suzie looked at the reports and let Ianto know what was happening. Ianto sent the four of them out, telling Suzie she was temporarily in charge of field missions.
They came back quite a while later, Gwen and Owen both grumbling about how the mission had gone. No one had been killed or injured during the alert, but it had taken the team a while to sort out what had been happening.
Two aliens had fallen through the rift, but a rescue team from their planet had tracked them down and was attempting to transport them back to their own planet. This was causing the rift breach to stay open. The Torchwood team were unable to communicate with the aliens, so they had no way of knowing what was actually happening. To them it appeared the aliens were deliberately keeping the rift open.
Owen and Gwen were of the opinion the aliens were trying to send more through, and Owen was itching to get a little trigger-happy. Luckily, Tosh managed to scan the aliens’ equipment in time and realised what they were actually trying to do. She was able to boost their signals and helped get the two aliens back to their own kind.
As they piled back into the SUV afterwards Gwen commented that the whole thing would have gone much more smoothly if Jack had been there, because he would have known what they were trying to do. Tosh and Suzie sat in the back of the SUV, steadfastly ignoring the grumbling from the two in the front.
Suzie headed up to Ianto’s office to give him a report, and she mentioned Gwen’s concerns that the mission would have been completed quicker if Jack had been there.
Ianto nodded silently, refusing to be drawn in. He waited for Suzie to say more, but was surprised when she just got up and left after completing her report to him.
That left one more person to come and say their bit about Jack.
Owen waited until the end of the day, and for the rest of the team to leave, before he made his way up to Ianto’s office. They stared steadily at each other.
Owen broke the silence first. “How’s your head?”
Ianto smiled ruefully. “Still hurts a bit.”
“That surprises me a bit. Didn’t think anything could get through that thick Welsh head of yours!” Owen grinned at Ianto, letting him know he wasn’t being serious.
“Hey!” Ianto said in mock anger.
Owen stopped smiling and sat down. “You know about Katie, right?” he began hesitantly.
Ianto nodded. He seemed to be doing a lot of that today.
“When Katie died,” Owen continued, “and no one would believe me about what had happened, I was so angry at Jack. I blamed him totally for Katie’s death. I didn’t know who he was, or what he did, but that day I saw him standing there at the cemetery, just standing there watching me, something inside me snapped. I ran over to him as fast as I could, and just started laying into him. But no matter how many times I punched him, he didn’t hit me back. He just stood there, or lay there, and took it all. And then when I had finally exhausted myself, and I just couldn’t hit him any more, he brought me back here. He showed me all the wonderful things Torchwood could be, told me of what I could possibly achieve here.
“And see, that’s the thing about Jack, he might not do what you want him to do, he might not tell you all he knows, but he does what’s needed. He picked me up and got me back on track, he could do the same for you.
“I saw your stuff down in his rooms, so I’m pretty sure there’s more going on between the two of you than any of us knows, but don’t let this get in the way. If you let him, I think he can save you too.”
Ianto stared down at his desk, unable to look at Owen. He’d done enough crying lately, and he didn’t want to do it again, not in front of Owen. Luckily for Ianto though, Owen understood well enough. He got up and started to walk around to Ianto’s side of the desk. He held out a medicine bottle.
“Here, this’ll help you sleep.”
Ianto took the bottle without a word.
As Owen left the office, he turned back with a grin. “Oh, and if you ever tell Jack I said that, I’ll retcon you both!” Owen was relieved to see it had the right effect as Ianto gave a slight grin in return.
“Get out of here!”
Jack spent the first week of his suspension pottering around the house, enjoying not having to work each day. He borrowed a car and drove past Alice’s house and Steven’s school a few times. He wanted to make sure no one was after them, and needed the reassurance of seeing them for himself, to make sure they were alright.
Gwen came to have lunch with him a few times, which concerned him at first, not wanting Torchwood to know about this place, but when she told him she had gotten Tosh to track him down, it all made sense. There wasn’t much Tosh couldn’t track down once she put her mind to it, he thought with pride.
They talked about things going on in Gwen’s life, she told him stories about Rhys and his friends, and she told him about what was happening at Torchwood. They both carefully avoided any mention of Ianto and the Cyberwoman.
None of the others came to see him, although Gwen passed on greetings from both Tosh and Suzie every now and then.
He wondered how Ianto was coping.
Ianto sat up in bed, looking wildly around him, but Jack wasn’t there.
Ianto flopped back down onto his pillow and closed his eyes. That was the third time he had woken from a dream calling out for Jack since he had suspended him. But, judging by how tight his pyjama bottoms felt, they at least seemed to be “good” dreams for once.
That day he was very quiet and withdrawn at work, and as with Jack’s first day of suspension, he spent most of the day shut away in his office. At lunchtime he didn’t eat with the rest of the team, instead he grabbed some food, left the boardroom without looking at anyone and went back to his office to eat there.
When he emerged from his office next, Tosh was the only one around as the rest of the team were out on a rift alert.
He went and stood quietly behind Tosh. “Do you know where he is?”
Tosh carefully hid a smile and, lifting up some files, she took out a piece of paper with an address on it. She didn’t need to ask whom he was talking about.
“You need to go and get him,” she told him. “Not just for the team, but for yourself as well.”
Ianto didn’t say anything, just pocketed the slip of paper and went back to his office.
During the second week of his suspension, Jack’s patience ran out. He had had enough of sitting around waiting for Ianto to decide whether he could or couldn’t return to the Hub. He was going to go out, have some fun, and get himself thoroughly shagged for the first time since the director had come to Torchwood.
He ended up at a pub he knew was run by one of the aliens in the community that owned the safe house. Josh Clements, the bartender and owner, came from a highly empathic race, which made him excellent at his job and popular with both humans and aliens alike.
Jack had discovered him one night when he was out on a rift alert on his own. He knew he came from a peaceful race, and certainly didn’t deserve to fall into Torchwood’s hands. Jack took some debris that had come through the rift with him, and reported that back to Torchwood instead. He then helped Josh get set up with the alien community in Cardiff.
Jack sat at the public bar most of the night. There was another room out the back, that was locked to the public. It was used by the aliens that could not pass as human. Jack was allowed back there, as he was known to be friendly to them, and he had spent many nights back there. Tonight though, he wanted to stick with humanoids.
He ended up talking to Josh most of the night. He checked out a lot of people, and a whole lot of people checked him out too. Some of them bought him drinks, and he bought drinks for others himself. But he never left the bar; somehow, none of them were quite what he was looking for.
Towards the end of the night, he gave up. He went over to one of the now-empty booths and sat down, his back to the door. He found himself thinking about dark hair and blue eyes and beautiful Welsh vowels.
Josh paused in wiping down tables and came and spoke to Jack. “Are you going to tell me why you’re really here?”
Jack smiled. It was pointless trying to keep his feelings secret from Josh. He shrugged. “I’m just looking for someone. The right someone.”
Josh stood up as the door opened. “Maybe that someone has arrived,” he said pointing.
Jack turned to see Ianto standing in the doorway watching them both intently.
Josh felt the same emotions radiating off Ianto that he had felt from Jack during the night. Ianto looked at him quizzically as he was reading his emotions. Josh was surprised, he realised that Ianto had strong empathic abilities and even though he could not tell Josh was reading him, he could still tell something was happening. Josh hadn’t sensed such strong abilities in a very long time, especially not in a human.
“Can I get you something?” he asked Ianto.
“A beer, thanks.” As Josh walked away, Ianto asked Jack if he could sit down.
Jack pointed to the seat opposite. Ianto sat, neither of them saying anything while waiting for Josh to bring Ianto’s drink back. When Josh placed the drink on the table Ianto got out his wallet to pay, but Josh waved him off.
“Don’t worry about it – I’ve put it on his tab,” Josh gestured at Jack. He walked away, allowing the two men their privacy.
“So how did you find me? I know Gwen knows where I’m staying, but how did you find this place?”
“I… err… followed you.”
Jack raised his eyebrows. “You mean you’ve been out there all night? Why didn’t you come in sooner?”
Ianto shrugged, “I didn’t want to interrupt, if you’d managed to pull someone. I know you have a reputation to keep.”
They grinned knowingly at each other.
They grinned again as they both spoke at the same time. Ianto waved at Jack to go first.
Jack placed his hand carefully over Ianto’s, and was both relieved that he didn’t pull away and disappointed that he didn’t respond or return his grip.
“Ianto, I know you don’t want me to apologise anymore, but I am truly, truly, sorry that it was Lisa back there. I can’t tell you why it happened, but I can promise you it is all over.” Jack turned Ianto’s hand over and tapped a finger gently on his wrist where the tracker had been injected. “You and I both know that I don’t always have a choice in what I do.”
Ianto looked up at Jack, nodding his head in acknowledgement. The forlornness in his blue eyes made Jack’s heart skip a beat.
Ianto suddenly pulled his hand out of Jack’s grasp, stood up and told him he could return to the Hub on Monday. Before Jack could reply though, Ianto walked away and left the pub.
Jack could read between the lines: Ianto had forgiven him, but still didn’t trust him. He sighed. Things were not yet one hundred percent fixed between them, but it was a start.